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Santa Cruz County History - People
Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson
PEOPLES, CHARLES (1837-1915)
Santa Cruz Sentinel (June 24, 1913)
Oakwood Memorial Park
Chas. Peoples Off to Gettysburg
Old Santa Cruzan Leaves for Reunion in the East
He Served Valiantly During the Civil War
Charles Peoples left Monday morning for the great reunion at Gettysburg. He was a member of the First New Hampshire Battery which took a conspicuous part in the great battle. It was one of the trusted and reliable batteries that Chief of Artillery Hunt selected to cover the crest of Cemetery Ridge, which was the key to the situation, the possession of which was coveted by both armies, for it was well known that the fate of the battle hinged upon that ridge. General Hunt massed 138 guns along the top of the ridge and awaited the coming of Pickett's superb division of Virginians. The fate of the Union hung upon the success or failure of this daring movement of Gen Lee. Men held their breath as they watched the solid, well trained ranks of Pickett's fresh division emerge from the old peach orchard. Majestically they swept across the wheat field with their guns at a "right shoulder shift". The tread of the 15,000 brave men was like the tread of one man. In their front massed for the slaughter were Hunt's selected artillery, crouched down like a pack of lions, backed by Hancock's old corps of men who were sunburned, powder bronzed, cool headed determined and well trained soldiers under the command of officers who were there to defeat Lee or die upon the field.
As they watched Gen. Pickett leading his invincibles, they were eager to grapple with them in a struggle that would forever settle the fate of the union of the States. Eager as they were to begin the slaughter, they coolly waited for the signal to begin the work.
General Longstreet in his book says, "when I gave the order to Pickett to advance, because Gen. Lee had so commanded, I turned my face from the scene."
When the assaulting army had reached close range without a gun having been fired by either side, suddenly the signal of six quick, wicket reports of a battery on the Union right rang out. In an instant the top of the whole ridge was ablaze from the muzzles of the infantry muskets and 138 pieces of artillery charged with grape and canister turned loose upon the ranks of the charging column. Human life was like wind and blood like water. The Virginians halted, returned the fire, staggered ahead, but were met with volley after volley, while the mouths of the cannon belched death dealing charges until the whole ground was combed with dead and missiles of death. The Confederates staggered, closed up their shattered columns, halted broke and then turned back defeated and the crack division of troops torn to fragments. The charge was over, the battle of Gettysburg was over and Lee had lost.
Charley Peoples as in the thickest and hottest of the battle and lives a half century after the bloody scene closed. Does the reader wonder he wants to be there, to stand on the ground where his battery stood and perhaps by his side a survivor of Pickett's division who faced him? now they can stand under the flag of the Union, each enjoying the same rights and blessings it gives.
Mr. Peoples is 81 years old, in good strength for an octogenarian, and has the fire in his old soul that he had 50 years ago. Who will not pray for his health and strength to carry him through and safely return him to his home in Santa Cruz. He is the only man to go from this city or county. His zeal and desire to be there were so great he goes at his own expense. It is a shame the legislature did not have interest enough in this great patriotic movement to make the appropriation available for the men in California who were in that battle to go at the State's expense but they did not.
H.C. Henney, William Rector, Lew Fitzsimmons, James B. Peakes and A. N. Boughton all wanted to go, but do not feel able to spend so much money, therefore they will remain at home
All hail to Charley Peoples, may the god of battles give you a pleasant journey, a great visit and a safe return is the "Sentinel's" prayer.
Santa Cruz Sentinel (July 25, 1915)
Charles Peoples Goes to Reward
At the home of his daughter Mrs. Gus Littlefield, in this city, Charley Peoples laid down the heavy burden of life and pitched his tent on the other side of the river.
Charley Peoples was a member of the First New Hampshire artillery in the civil war, which won immortal distinction in nearly every battle fought by the army of the Potomac and in every engagement the tall manly form of Charley Peoples was seen amidst the smoke and carnage. He led a charmed life and escaped without a scratch or wound, to live a long and honorable life to reap of the fruits borne by the country he helped to save undivided. In 1913, when the reunion was held on the Gettysburg field, he went all the way back with the men he served with. Old as he was, he was strong and vigorous then. He had the time of his life and never tired telling of his trip. He not only went over the scenes of his service, but also went back to his old home where he was born in the old Granite State, and visited until he was satisfied, when he returned home to await the last bugle call which sounded Saturday morning.
Mr. Peoples was never a boaster or vain in his recitals of his army service, but he was candid and sincere and every word he uttered was true.
He came from the stalwart type of men who settled in New Hampshire in Pilgrim days, tall symmetrical and athletic in his build, he was a man of iron physically and a lion in courage and a Puritan in his conviction of the right.
He was quiet and reserved in his manner, firm and resolute in his intercourse and loyal to his friends to a marked degree. A lover of home and family. Some years ago the wife of his youth passed away. Since then he has been kindly and tenderly taken care of by Mrs. Littlefield, who idolized him as a model father.
He lived to be almost an octogenarian, seventy nine years and four months, and leaves behind the impress of a useful and blameless life. Unassuming in all his ways, he was the type of good citizen and a true comrade as ever wore the uniform of a soldier.
The deceased leaves to mourn a daughter, Mrs. G.B. Littlefield, of 42 Felker St., and a son F.R. Peoples, a merchant of Fairbanks Alaska. The latter was recently here on a visit leaving Santa Cruz on the 20th of last month, perhaps being now in Seattle en route home. Efforts have been made to reach him by telegram.
He came to California in 1867, and resided in Santa Cruz ever since 1881. When the state highway was built he donated seven acres of land from his ranch at the head of Scotts Valley for road uses. Having been a logger as a young man and thus having seen so many mammoth redwoods destroyed, he carefully preserved the larger trees on his mountain ranch.
He has been failing for the past six months, death coming from pneumonia which seized him last Tuesday. He died at the home of his daughter where he had resided since his wife's death seven years ago. A man of kind disposition, he will be sadly missed at the last home, and by the neighbors who all called him "Grandpa Peoples."
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